54 years, and it’s still a Dream

My sermon from 1/15/17. The riskiest thing I’ve ever been part of. Shared with you. The text, is MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech.

 

“Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!…

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

 

August 28th, 1963. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered that speech, spoke of his dreams, on August 28th, 1963. It was nearly 54 years ago. And it is still a dream.

If anyone here today was expecting a sermon extolling the virtues of the legacy of Dr. King, I’m going to disappoint you. Because I truly believe that the greatest way to celebrate Dr. King is not to rest on our laurels, as we have for the last 50 years, but to be true to his cause. To speak truth to power. And to remind us all that this fight is not over. It is far from over.

For proof, on Friday a man will be installed as our president who won the election because he espoused a rhetoric of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia. Please save me the argument of he won in spite of those things. Look around this country. Look at what is happening. I was ordained the Saturday after the election. I spent Sunday, my first fully ordained day, in Silver Spring at the Church of Our Saviour, whose signage and building were defaced in an act of racial violence. That was less than a week after the election.

And now this man, whose words emboldened and strengthened people who never lost power, is set to become the president.

So today, I wish to honor Dr. King’s legacy, by doing the best I can do, as a white woman, to draw light to the fact that we are still fighting the same fight for civil rights and to end racism that Dr. King spoke of in 1963. The fight has of course evolved over the last 50 years. Racism looks different, but systemic inequality is still alive and well. Partisanship, fear of the outsider, fear of anyone you consider to be different, and the desire to separate yourself from them, is still tearing this nation and world apart.

I know there are some of you in this room who don’t believe me, or who question the idea that racism is still alive. To you, and to all of us, I say: look around this room. Look around this room and tell me racism isn’t dead. Save the demographic, sociological, and systematic explanations. I know them. Racism is still alive and well.

Fun fact: American Christianity helped create racism. Christianity, the love of God through Christ, the great equalizer, a place where all are free. In a country that was racially diverse from the beginning, Native Americans, Caucasian European Settlers, and African Slaves, a system was set up to differentiate us based on the color of our skin. And that system remains today. It looks different today, it looks different today than it did even 50 years ago. And now we’ve added to the list.

Well, let me rephrase that. Because we haven’t added to the list. We’ve always categorized, differentiated, and judged people based on race, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, religion, and what is or is not between their legs. Now, we’re talking about it.

What we’re talking about is changing how we live our lives, and how we judge people. Moving closer to the idea that Dr. King spoke of so eloquently: to judge a person on the content of their character, instead of a checklist of characteristics that some white, heterosexual, Christian, man made up.

It’s easy to judge people on checklists. That’s an outward focus. Towards an end. It’s a lot harder to judge someone on the content of their character. That requires relationship. Talking to people. Actually spending time with someone, engaging, with someone who might not look or talk like you.

Just like Jesus did.

Jesus didn’t spend His days talking about the characteristics of a person needed to get into heaven. He certainly didn’t say to judge other people as to their suitability to be Christian based on a checklist. Look at the people he hung out with? Poor people. Outcasts. Disabled people. Tax collectors. Sinners. Women. People society looked at and judge as unworthy. Different. Wrong.

And if you think, for a second, that we don’t still do that today, you’re wrong. You might not consciously do so, but you do. If you’ve spent your life not thinking about these things, then you too are complicit in the continued systematic oppression of people who are not white, Christian, and heterosexual.

Listen to that again: if you have never thought about how society differentiates, categorizes, and assigns values to people, then you too are complicit in the systematic racism and oppression of America.

So what do we do? Right now this engrained system of oppression, violence, and differentiation is set to take over this country. Led by a man who has probably never thought about how society separates and assigns value to people.

Now, today, here, is the moment that we who have thought, or are willing to think, need to take action.

It starts by thinking about things you’ve never had to think about before. Think about why you selected the job you have. While remembering that you had a choice in that, and many do not. Think about the stores you shop in, the money you spend, and what that money supports. Think about who you voted for, and why. Think about your life. Realize that you have been privileged by the color of your skin. You had opportunities that others just did not. This is not to say that your life has been easy. I know mine has not and I would not even begin to assume that your life has been smooth sailing.

But how did you get to this place? And why are so many highly qualified, intelligent, people of color, or of a different religion, who may or may not speak with an accent, why are they not here too?

Think. Then talk. Talk with your families about these things, with your closest friends. Listen to their responses. Do they actually hear you? Are they defending themselves and their lives, or are they listening?

This isn’t an attack. It’s not an attack on you, and it won’t be an attack on them. It’s a conversation. No one is placing blame. This is an exercise in awareness.

Then, after you’ve thought, and talked to the people around you, talk to someone who doesn’t look or talk like you. Talk to them about their lives. Ask them their story. Ask about what it took to get where they are, if this is where they wanted to be. Learn about their daily struggles. Get to know them. Be in relationship. Judge them by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, or some other item on a checklist that says we’re different. And allow them to do the same to you. Understand the fullness of another’s humanity, and help them become what they were created to be. It’s the only way we will ever become who we were created to be.

“And when this happens [as Dr. King says], and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black and white, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, [gay and straight], will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 

54 years. 54 years and this is still just a dream. We are the ones who can help make God’s dream a reality.

Christmas, 2016!!

Christmas Sermon from 2016! Given at St. John’s Georgetown. Feel free to think of your favorite Christmas Carol or Hymn too! The texts can be found here.

 

I would like to begin today with a little bit of congregational participation. Don’t worry. You don’t have to get up. You don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to. Okay! Here’s the activity. I would like you to sit back, close your eyes if you’d like, and think about your favorite Christmas Carol or Hymn.

Got one! Now, I would like those of you who are willing to share, to do so. Share with us your favorite Carol or Hymn!

All of these musical pieces, and so many more, are part of what makes this season so incredible. I don’t know about you, but when I hear my favorite, Carol of the Bells, in case you’re curious, this incredible sense of peace and happiness comes over me, which extends into the very core of my being.

I have spent a decent amount of time thinking about what it is about Carol of the Bells that I like so much. I think it’s the way all of the different parts come together, and in such a way that if one part wasn’t there, we’d notice. It can be sung in different ways, played by only instruments, or done in such a way that the instruments and voices meld together to create something incredible.

And I really, really like the idea of a bunch of different people coming together to create something bigger and more beautiful than themselves.

I think that’s part of why I like music so much, period. The coming together of different parts, voices, instruments, to create something bigger and more beautiful. For me, this season is made more complete, and even more beautiful because of music. Voices of all different types coming together; people of all different types coming together to listen, together.

Think about the songs you named or thought of earlier: would Christmas be complete without hearing it? We would still come together, sure. Gifts would still be bought and given. Much needed donations would still be given to worthy causes. Sermons would be preached. Church would be held.

But it wouldn’t be the same.

Now, fortunately and amazingly, we live in a world where we can press a few buttons on our phones and hear our favorite songs, hymns, and carols. But to me, there’s even a difference between listening to my favorite songs at my command, and hearing them when I’m not expecting it. When Sam throws Carol of the Bells in to service; when I hear it on the radio; or at a concert. There’s something about the element of surprise, and about it being out of my control, which makes the song somehow even better.

Surprise can be a good thing. More than just with a Christmas carol. Getting an unexpected gift, that’s super fun. Surprise parties, while terrifying, are also fun. At least for me, when it comes to surprise parties, I appreciate that so many people are gathered to celebrate me, AND that I didn’t have to do the work of gathering everyone together! Though, I don’t really appreciate this until after my heart rate has returned to normal.

It’s the instances of surprise, terror, and then the realization of something wonderful happening that is really sticking with me this year. And while there are a lot of directions I could go with this, the surprise, terror, and realization I’m talking about are that of the Shepherds keeping watch over their flocks that we are introduced to in Luke’s version of the birth of Christ.

Honestly, this year, the word terrified nearly leapt off the page at me. Much like what I did with Carol of the Bells, I spent time thinking about why that word could really be standing out to me. I have some theories, but my best guess is that those shepherds are totally justified in being terrified. Because what is happening in their world is totally, and completely, terrifying.

Imagine the scene for a moment. Three men, watching over their sheep, in the middle of a wide open space. Possibly with a small fire to stay warm, and possibly just in the dark, deciding who will sleep as the gate to the enclosure that night. When suddenly, they are surrounded by the glory of the Lord! I know that when we think about being in the presence of God, it seems like it would be fun. But this moment does not sound like fun to me.

To be surrounded by a dark so thick that you can’t see any further than the moonlight will let you. All of the stars can be seen so clearly they twinkle. There’s no light in the distance from a city. It’s dark.

Suddenly, it’s not. Suddenly you’re surrounded by a light more brilliant and bright than anything you could imagine, and certainly beyond anything you have ever seen.

That, my friends, would be absolutely terrifying.

The Angel of the Lord brings wonderful news, life and world altering news. But there are a few terrified moments when those shepherds have no idea what’s happening.

Interestingly, the word terrified, comes from the same root word as terrific. And as I’ve thought about it, there are a couple of terrifying things that turn out to be terrific. The one that gets the biggest mention here is the appearance of Angel of God to the three shepherds. But what about Mary’s terror, which turns into something terrific?

I am not a parent, but I’ve heard, that the days and weeks before becoming a first time parent are absolutely terrifying. Exciting, and welcomed, but terrifying. And once she starts to settle into the idea of being a mother, the realization would wash over Mary that she’s also brought forth God in human form into this world. That’s a lot of pressure for a young mother.

It had to be terrifying.

There’s one other part of this story, one thing that you have to look really closely to notice. In each instance, when the terrifying news becomes terrific, the news isn’t met by silence. When the shepherds hear the news, a multitude of the heavenly host started speaking. When the shepherds reached Mary and Joseph, all who heard were amazed and spread the word as well. This, was most definitely, a joyful noise!

As we sit here today, two thousand plus years later, we still great the news of the Birth of Christ with a joyful noise.

We each greet the news with a different joyful noise, but that’s all part of the wonder, mystery, and majesty of this God whom we worship.

My favorite carol is Carol of the Bells. My favorite Hymn, is Joy to the World. This world needs more love and joy right now. In terrified and uncertain times, we as Christians have news of hope, love, and joy. We are part of something bigger and more beautiful than ourselves. Today, we remember and celebrate the beginning of what brought all of us together.

Be the love of Christ today. Much like that infant wrapped in cloth and resting in Mary’s arms, Christ still depends on us to do the work in this world. Make a joyful noise, joining your voice with the multitude of the heavenly host and all the company of heaven:

“On on they send,

On without end,

Their joyful tone

To every home.”

Amen

This was my first sermon given at St. Luke’s Bethesda. This is a good introduction to me as a preacher, and my theology. The text is Luke 19:1-10. Enjoy!

The first paper I wrote in seminary was on Luke 19:1-10. That was 4 years ago, and a lot has happened since then. Four years ago, I wasn’t even an Episcopalian; and now, well, in a little less than two weeks, I’m going to be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate. The Church that sent me to seminary 4 years ago is what I would now call an Evangelical, Conservative, Literalist church. As I stand before you today, two weeks away from my ordination, I have to tell you, I don’t even recognize the woman I was back when I first wrote on this text.

But, I did look at the paper I wrote on Luke 19, and I have to tell you, I had potential! (I also got an A)

In that time, I was just starting to unravel what I had been taught in the Evangelical Church, and starting to deal with the harm that experience caused. This text, and what I learned in the process of writing on it, are lessons that I cannot begin to tell you the importance of in my journey to be here. I found my theological self in the midst of these words.

Today, what I’m going to try to do, is take you through some of the process that I went through with this text 4 years ago, and weave in a bit of what I get from this text today. Hopefully, doing so will give you a good idea of what you can expect from me over the next several months. But more importantly, I hope these words give you permission and tools to dive into texts for yourselves. My hope is that when you leave here today, you will be able to take any text and do what I did with this one. And you’ll be able to start figuring out for yourself what Jesus was talking about, instead of just taking my word for it.

When I read this text a few words jump out at me: stature; hurry; must; grumble; sinner; salvation. I spent a lot of time thinking about these words, starting with the word Stature. Which I know, is a strange word to start with. Of all of the words I listed and that are in this text, I started with the word stature. I did this for a couple of reasons: 1. There was WAYYYYY too much baggage for a recovering evangelical surrounding the words sinner and salvation; and 2. Stature is a beautifully ambiguous term. It can mean short, or lacking social importance.

For someone coming out of a tradition that taught every word of the Bible was literally true, this word was invigorating. Here is a word challenging me to engage with it. Stature is kind of like the cool word in the corner that the evangelical church used to warn me about. And I walked right over to it and said: hey. Tell me about yourself.

And stature did!

In the story just before this in Luke, a blind beggar was prevented from reaching Jesus by a crowd who thought they were protecting Christ from someone unsavory. Jesus parted the crowd, rebuked them, and healed the blind man anyway.

In this story, I really believe that Zacchaeus wasn’t (or wasn’t just) vertically challenged. I think he was so unpopular, so detested, that the crowd was physically preventing him from even seeing Jesus.

Let’s think about why for a minute. Zaccheaus was the chief tax collector. I know in this day and age we have fairly negative associations with tax collectors, but in the ancient world, it was even worse. In other places in the New Testament you often here the phrase: sinners and tax collectors. Tax collectors were considered even lower than sinners. They took money and goods from fellow Israelites to give to the occupying Roman forces, and profited from doing so. The chief tax collector didn’t just do this for his job. He had to approach the Romans, negotiate a deal, and pay for the right to control the tax collectors in the area.

There are a lot of words in modern English that could be used to describe how the general public felt about Zaccheaus. But none of them are suitable to be said in church. So let’s just say he was loathed by the people who gathered around Christ that day.

Even though the general public hated him, Zaccheaus still wanted to see Jesus, badly. I guess it could just be because he wanted to see the rock star, but in my mind, it’s more than that. I think this because Jesus went totally against the social convention, and also sought out Zaccheaus.

Not only that, but Zaccheaus becomes super important to this story! Jesus tells Zaccheaus to hurry, because he must stay with him. Those words indicate an urgency! There is Divine action happening, and it involves Zaccheaus. Urgently, immediately, now! God is doing something, at this very moment, in this very place. And God is working through a man society says is not worthy of knowing God.

A want to take a moment here to think about this, because I think it is truly important. Society says Zaccheaus is bad. Really, really bad. Irredeemably bad. Deplorable. Society has given up on this man, and is even physically preventing him from getting to Jesus. Because in their eyes Zaccheaus is not worthy of God’s attention – and God’s love is totally out of the question.

Since the world kept Zaccheaus from him, God found Zaccheaus. Zaccheaus looked; God found.

A man who was hated, unwelcome, unwanted by the world, didn’t have to do anything other than look for God in order to be brought into God’s presence.

It gives me so much hope and peace to know that what society says is worthy or unworthy of God’s love is not what God says makes you worthy.

What this story tells me is that God makes love available to everyone, and all we have to do is look.

As we continue in this story, we see that the gathered masses are not happy about what Jesus is doing. They grumble at the decision to go to Zaccheaus’s house. There is dissent, disbelief! How could Jesus want to love and honor someone so terrible!?!?

You know what I love about this story? Jesus doesn’t answer them. He ignores the grumbling. In my mind there’s a shrug and Christ’s internal monologue is something along the lines of: whatever. I’m God. I don’t have to explain myself to you.

This story in Luke builds off of other stories of Christ and his teachings from this and the other Gospels. What we know of Christ is that he is looking for the lost, the marginalized, the ones who society says aren’t worthy of God’s love. I don’t think Jesus does this because the rest of us aren’t worthy of God’s love, but the rest of us have probably heard once or twice before that we are loved and welcomed, by God and by society. But people like Zaccheaus, and the blind beggar in the story before, they probably haven’t heard that. And God wants to make sure they know.

Society has determined that Zaccheaus is a sinner, but God hasn’t decided the same thing. Jesus sees good beneath what society says is a wrong and bad man.

For me, digging into this text, with my evangelical background, this idea that Sin isn’t what I’ve always been told it is, was life giving.

I’m still worthy of God’s love, even though I’ve been called a sinner and told I wasn’t worthy because I’m gay, and have cussed, and had a drink (or 2), and engaged in a few other behaviors that don’t need to be named (God knows); the totally of which means I am a human being who has actually lived my life instead of sitting in a corner waiting for life to come to me. And God loves me anyway!

There is still one word left that jumped out at me in this text. Salvation. There may not be a more loaded word in modern day Christianity. I can hear it now, the echoes of the messages being shouted at me through bullhorns: repent and be saved! Or else.

There’s a lot of stuff and hurt and emotions and fear and anger wrapped up in this one word.

So I looked up the word. In Greek, the word that Christ uses here means a “restoration of wholeness.” What I think this means is that Zaccheaus was restored to the whole person he was created to be. Zaccheaus had not been perfect, nor was he living the life the way Christ taught – but he also hadn’t met Christ before!

Zaccheaus voluntarily gave up a lot of stuff, not all, but a lot. In the previous chapter there’s a rich man who asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told that man he should sell all that he has and follow Jesus. And that rich man declined.

Jesus didn’t ask anything of Zaccheaus. Jesus merely acknowledged that Zaccheaus already had salvation. Salvation, you see, is more than just eternal life. In the evangelical world what we hear a lot of is that all we have to do is ask, or believe, and eternal life is ours. And maybe that’s true, I don’t know. But that’s definitely not what I think salvation means.

I think, salvation is both eternal life, and how we live our lives, right now, here, in this place, at this time. Zaccheaus wasn’t being whisked off to heaven right then. He was learning what it takes to live a full, complete, and whole life.

Salvation means the same thing today. It means how we live our lives now, as well as how do we get into heaven.

And it is, unfortunately, more difficult than merely saying a prayer (as I was told in college), or believing. Really, what’s belief without action?

It’s words.

It’s empty.

What Christ offers us is more than a free ride to heaven. What Christ offers us is the same as what he offered Zaccheaus: a way to live our lives fully and completely, as we were created to live them. This salvation is available to all of us.

It’s up to you to say yes. And then, to decide what you’re going to do about it.

So what are you going to do about it? Amen

To Hear the Word of the Lord

This Sermon was given at St. John’s Georgetown, on September 18, 2016. The Texts referenced are Jeremiah 2:4-13, and Psalm 81:1; 10-16.

 

“Hear the word of the Lord.”

Why, oh why, oh why, is it so hard, to hear the word of the Lord? I feel like this should be a pretty easy thing. God sounds like James Earl Jones, right? Or maybe Morgan Freeman?

I’m kidding, of course. God’s voice comes in a lot of forms, and I think that’s what makes it so hard to pick God out of the voices that surround us.

Actually, I think it’s easy to know when God is speaking, but it’s a lot harder to understand what God wants us to do. I think God’s voice is like a crying baby. Babies cry to alert us to some need, but since they can’t articulate the need, it’s up to us to figure out what the child needs. The better you know the child, the better able you are to determine the need.

The same is true of God, I think. The stronger and better our relationship with God, the easier it is for us to know what God wants of us, and the more prepared we are to act.

I’ve said it before, and it’s still true, it’s really hard to separate what God is saying from what we are saying, and what society is saying.

Over the centuries, it’s gotten harder to hear God’s voice from the sounds of the masses. But what we have in all of the readings today are stories that show us this struggle is not a modern phenomenon.

I’ve spent a lot of time in this pulpit talking about the need to differentiate what God is saying from what society or we are saying. And we do. But I want you all to be prepared to take the next step. You all are intelligent, wonderful people. And as I have come to know you over the last two years, I have found you all to be kind, and truly desiring to do God’s work in this world.

But we’re missing a step. We’re trying to run before we can even crawl. And if we are going to learn to pick out what God is saying to us in the cacophony of sounds and distractions that is modern life, we must first learn to recognize God’s voice. And since God doesn’t actually sound like James Earl Jones, there’s more to this than auditory signals.

This step, this important point, starts with us. God, in all of God’s amazing gloriousness, has this incredible ability to reach each of us, and to reach each of us differently. Just look at Christianity. Forget how many religions there are, just look at how many different types of Christianity there are? Look at the Anglican Church. The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Churches in Georgetown. Each are different. And this is just one type of Christianity!

Now look around this room. Each of the people in this room is reached differently by God. We are in the same building to be nourished before going out into the world to serve God. And we are each nourished differently.

How we are nourished, and how we receive that nourishment, says a lot about our relationship with God, much like how a baby is receiving nourishment dictates how well the child is growing physically. And once nourished, much like children who grow to adults, we are all sent forth to do and be different things.

In the story in Jeremiah, the people were all coming together to worship God too. And much like us today, they thought they were doing a good job of living faithful lives. Going to Temple. Listening to the Priests. But they got bogged down by what society was saying was the proper way to pursue God, and live faithful lives. With the benefit of hindsight, we know they were wrong.

I’m standing before you, to warn you, if we don’t learn to recognize God’s voice, history will also show that we were doing things wrong.

Now, this is the point in the sermon where I will usually get on a soapbox and attempt to open your eyes on social justice matters. But I’m not going to do that today. If you want a refresher on any of those things, please see my or St. John’s Website.

Instead, today, I want you to consider what you think your relationship with God is based on. We can be called forth to action, but if we don’t have a solid foundation of faith, we will crumble under the pressure. If we even have the courage to stand up and act.

What is the basis of your faith?

My faith is based on a tragic experience: the death of a friend when I was 17. Through the pain of that grieving process, I discovered that I believe in God. And I believe in a God I can be mad at. And argue with. A God I can challenge, curse at, and scream at. And you know what, the God I believe in can take it. And will still love me.

But no matter what, even in my pain and grief, I believe in God.

I stand here, and I share my beliefs and experiences in the hope that you go forth and discover for yourself what you believe in. I want to help solidify your foundations, but I can’t create the cornerstones for you; you must do that work yourself.

Scripture gives us a roadmap for learning to differentiate God’s voice, and discovering how to understand what God is saying to us.

Jeremiah gives us a lot of what not to do, and what not to think. Between the lines is space for us to figure out what God does want. My interpretation, is that God wants us to believe in God. That’s step one. We must believe that God is real, even if we can’t give proof for this belief. Even as war, and famine, and fear are spiraling around us.

But then what? Right? We’re already here, in a church! Clearly, we think there’s at least some merit to this God thing.

The Psalm picks up where Jeremiah leaves off and gives us the next step: walk in God’s ways!

Great! How the hell do we do that? What are God’s ways anyway? How do we know God’s ways from our ways?

Jesus! Jesus steps up and gives us an example in the Gospel!

“[W]hen you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Be humble. Great! That’s simple!

Except it’s not. There’s a lot of room for interpretation in this parable, and I assure you, if you Google this parable, you will see that there are a lot of different interpretations. But I’m going to add one more and give you mine anyway!

I think, this parable means that we need to not think of ourselves as being better than anyone else. We are all equal. There is basic humanity in every person. By recognizing that basic humanity, we honor God. And God, is where the honor needs to be placed.

Care for people because it’s the right thing to do, not because you get something out of it. Care for people, be God’s hands and feet. That’s how we need to live our lives, right now.

God is crying out to us right now.

What God needs from each of us is different. It’s time to look into ourselves, and hear God’s voice.

It’s easy to hear God’s voice. It’s a lot harder to understand God’s words.

And then, we have to act on those words.

How will you act? How will you walk in God’s ways? How will you respect and honor the humanity of every person?

Or will you let the cries go unanswered? Will you pass God by like how we pass by our homeless neighbors as they cry out for help?

Will you be horrified by the images of children who sit in shock after their lives have been blown apart, yet remain silent?

The earth itself, is crying out for help.

The streets of Orlando and Dallas, and Ferguson, and Baltimore, and Paris, and Brussels, and Aleppo, and Amatrice, and Palestine. They are all crying out.

God is crying out to us through their tears.

Can you hear it?

Will you answer it?

Or will you continue to walk in your own ways?

Amen